One of the skills that separates a leader from a follower is the ability to see what might be, but so far isn’t. Most people can see what’s already there. You don’t need magic glasses to see that the Eiffel Tower is a popular tourist destination, or that the area of a rectangle is the product of its height and width, or that millions of people will pay extra for a fancy cup of coffee. But you do need magic glasses to see what’s still missing from the world, since by definition what’s missing is invisible.

The trick is to notice what artists and designers call negative space. It’s the plain background of a painting, ...

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